THE GUARDIAN: Arundhati Roy And Kashmir’s Struggle For Justice

Posted by Web Editor on Oct 28th, 2010

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Roy’s persecution for speaking out over Kashmir shows India’s growing intolerance of the region’s distress


MURTAZA SHIBLI |Thursday | 28 October 2010 | 13.59 BST |


LONDON, UK—The news that the prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy may be arrested for her remarks about Kashmir is not surprising. It is a sign of growing Indian intolerance towards the issue. During the current phase of the Kashmiri intifada, the only Indian response to Kashmiri demands for justice and self-determination has been the use of overwhelming military force. More than 112 civilians – mostly youths – have been killed and several thousand injured, mainly by the Indian military and paramilitary.

In the absence of strong international criticism, the Indian state has been emboldened to crush any dissent or demands of justice ferociously. Intimidating Kashmiri civil society has always been part of the standard Indian response, but it has grown exponentially over the last few months. In early July, the police arrested Mian Qayoom, president of the Kashmir Bar Association (the main lawyers’ body), for protesting against human rights violations. He was arrested under the draconian Public Safety Act, which authorises incarceration for up to two years if the authorities feel that the detainee may disturb peace and order or threaten the security of the state.

Several other human rights activists, such as Ghulam Nabi Shaheen and political workers remain behind bars, along with hundreds of Kashmiri youths who have been detained for offences such as throwing stones at gun-toting Indian armed forces.

Frustrated by having to treat the mounting casualties amid curfew restrictions and with dwindling medical supplies, a group of doctors at the government medical college in Srinagar staged a peaceful sit-in – only to be accused by the police of various “offences” including rioting and “disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant”. The police also accused them of inciting people and using “anti-national slogans”. The largest local newspaper, Greater Kashmir, lamented that creating an atmosphere of intimidation in this way “speaks of the mindset that always contributed to the worsening of the situation”. It continued: “Rather than establishing a connect with its people and knowing from them what has gone wrong and how can it be corrected, government, by initiating such actions against people, is only pushing the situation towards worse.”




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